If you're anything like most guys, you stink. Which is why finding the best-smelling deodorant is so important for men. While you might not be bothered by your own smell, people around you certainly can be. Wearing a good-smelling deodorant can improve your personal presentation and boost your confidence.
Why You Need a Deodorant to Smell Good
The good news is it's not all your fault — bacteria, in particular Staphylococcus hominis is mostly to blame for the stench. Mens armpits have the double threat of sweat and hormone glands — not to mention that armpits are warm, moist and often dark which makes them perfect breeding grounds for all sorts of bacteria.
"When the bacteria break down the sweat they form products called thioalcohols, which have scents comparable to sulfur, onions or meat. ‘They're very very pungent,‘ says Bawdon. ‘We work with them at relatively low concentrations so they don't escape into the whole of the lab but ... yes, they do smell. So we're not that popular.'” (read more on NPR).
However your friends, boss and date probably won't consider this a good excuse so you need to be proactive about combating the bad smells under your arms. Whether it's sweat or stress or just your body's natural tendencies, here are some of the best ways to keep smelling fresh.
Antiperspirant vs Deodorant for Men
Luckily there are two easy-to-use tools in your fight against armpit stench: antiperspirant and deodorant. These are often referred to interchangeably but they actually work in different ways.
How Do Deodorants Work?
Deodorants keep you smelling like a daisy by counteracting the bacteria that live in your apocrine glands. Deodorants should be applied after your shower for maximum effect and can be reapplied during the day.
- Counteract armpit bacteria that cause bad odors
- Scented to off-set your body odor
- Apply immediately after showering and 1-3x during the day
How Do Antiperspirants Work?
Meanwhile antiperspirants work by keeping you from sweating at all. They have active ingredients that work their way into your sweat ducts and clog them. They generally last 24 hours and for maximum effect should be applied before bed so they have time to become effective.
- Block your sweat ducts
- Need time to become effective
- Last for 24-hours after application
What Types of Deodorants Are There?
All deodorants are not created equal. Beyond smell, there's several ways it can be applied based on your personal preference. Here are the most popular ways:
- Aerosol Deodorants
Aerosol deodorants are sprayed onto the skin. They are typically the lightest option and are perfect if you don't like the feeling of something heavier on your skin. Also ideal for sharing as they don't touch your body directly.
- Roll-On Deodorants
Roll-on deodorants combine a liquid deodorant and roller ball that glides along as you apply. Depending on thickness, you might need a couple seconds to let it dry before you get dressed.
- Solid Deodorants:
Solid deodorants (also sometimes called stick deodorant) are dry soft material that you rub directly onto your skin. Because they're dry, there's less potential of spilling or making a mess while travelling, however they may leave slight residue on your clothing.
- Gel Deodorants:
Gel deodorants are an attempt to blend the best of wet and solid deodorants. They are softer than solids but not completely liquid and are less likely to leave marks on clothing.
Crystal deodorants are good for sensitive skin or men concerned with chemicals like aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminum zirconium in traditional deodorants.
- Deodorant Wipes:
Deodorant wipes are a relatively new category. They're great for travel, the gym or any time you're on the go and don't want the hassle of brining a full deodorant.
Which Deodorant Should You Choose?
What type of deodorant you choose should be based on your own body's chemistry — however there has been recent studies that link some common ingredients in deo and antiperspirant to Alzheimer's, cancer, and severe allergies. Ingredients to look out for include aluminum, talc, and parabens.
The good news is there's been a boom in natural and organic men's deodorant so you have plenty to choose from. This is also good news for men with sensitive skin or allergies.
So without further ado, the best men's deodorants:
Top 5 Picks for Best-Smelling Deodorant for Men
Best Fragrance-Free Deodorant
Schmidt's Natural Deodorant for Sensitive Skin - Fragrance Free, Unscented
This is a great, high quality, natural deodorant — I used to work with a woman who had fragrance sensitivities and this saved me. If you really go for a hard workout, it might not hold up but in most other situations, you're set with this stick. It's also free of aluminum, propylene glycol, parabens, phthalates and gluten.
Best Natural Deodorant
Primal Pit Paste Deodorant
I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about this one. Sure, there's a nice backstory about the founder trying to find safer products for her family — but would it work? And how do you apply it anyhow? Turns out you rub it on your skin with a finger — it took me a couple tries to get the hang of it but once applied I could get through the day without stinking. I like the lavender but they have some other scents if you aren't a fan. No parabens, no aluminum — just baking soda.
Best Deodorant for Sensitive Skin
MenScience Androceuticals Advanced Deodorant
This is a great one for the gym — it's hardcore. Non-irritating and perfect for men with sensitive skin. Lasts up to 48 hours so I wear it for long flights. And if you're worried about the negative health risks of aluminum, it's uses witch hazel instead. Main downside is it's a bit pricy.
Best Smelling Deodorant
Jack Black Pit Boss Antiperspirant & Deodorant
Jack Black Pit Boss smells like a boss. Literally, it reminds me of boardrooms (in a good way). It's a solid, transparent stick antiperspirant and deodorant. In keeping with the product line, it features the signature Jack Black scent, albeit much less prominently than the cologne. It's a great deo for work or evening — esp nice to layer with the Jack Black cologne. No talc or alcohol but it does have aluminum.
Best Organic Deodorant
Herban Cowboy - Maximum Protection Deodorant
Full-disclosure, I first came across this brand and decided to buy based solely on the name and packaging. It's got nice masculine look and pleasant scent to it and the price point is just slightly above drugstore prices. My one complaint is it doesn't seem to last long — I do need to reapply during the day.
Best Deodorant for Excessive Sweat
SweatBlock Antiperspirant - Clinical Strength
This one is a bit different — it's actually a towelette that you dab in your pits at night, let dry for 5 minutes and then when you wake up the next morning, you don't stink for a week. My friend with Hyperhidrosis swears by it. Unfortunately it is a bit pricy but worth it if you have a lot of issues with sweating. 8 Antiperspirant towelettes
Comparison Chart of Top Best-Smelling Deodorants
It's a struggle but not impossible to stay smelling good as a guy. Still looking for the right deodorant for you? If you have sensitive skin, check out our review of men's deodorants for sensitive skin.